“Inaction by Congress will put the entire child care sector on a path to insolvency — a reality that would have catastrophic consequences for our entire labor market and economy.”
As the Senate hammers out a budget reconciliation deal that, in its current form, does not include any provisions for childcare (or many other Biden campaign promises), the First Five Years Fund (FFYF), the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), a bloc of 85 additional national organizations, and 5,416 child care providers are encouraging U.S. lawmakers to include funding to address the childcare crisis.
In an open letter to Congress, childcare workers and advocates made a case for the vital necessity of improved child care and early education funding — not only for families but for the economy as a whole.
“Lawmakers have demonstrated a clear understanding about the essential role that child care plays for millions of people — and the consequences for working families and our entire economy — when early learning options disappear,” read the letter. “Now, Congress must follow through on their commitment to working families by including child care funding in any reconciliation package.”
An earlier iteration of the budget, proposed by the House of Representatives, included over $400 million in funding for childcare. The Senate’s version of the budget, however, slashed childcare and early education funding and proposed exactly zero dollars to help combat the ever-worsening childcare crisis or bolster early childhood education for American children.
And it is a crisis. Childcare has reached a flashpoint in the U.S. The cost of childcare is rising more quickly and more steeply than the already astronomical increases we’ve seen in staples like fuel and food. This is not a new phenomenon, either. A February 2022 report found that the cost of child care had increased a whopping 214% since 1990.
Those costs have consequences. The exploding costs associated with childcare have forced many American women out of the workforce and back into the home to provide childcare. A recent report from The Brookings Institute found that federal investment in childcare and early education infrastructure would not only allow women to reenter the workforce, but would also decrease the risk of the U.S. entering a recession after the Federal Reserve increased interest rates in June.
“Working parents, especially mothers, can’t afford to go back to work because child care costs far outweigh the paycheck they’re bringing home,” wrote the group. “An investment in America’s child care sector would have an immediate and measurable impact on working families and our economy at a time when the country is struggling through the worst inflation in a generation.”
The data shows that most families pay as much as 18% of their total income for infant care and 13% of their total income for toddler care, shelling out as much as $2,200 per month or more for quality childcare. Additionally, quality childcare has become scarce since the pandemic, leaving many families with no choice except for one parent to leave the workforce — usually the mother.
As the Senate has been notoriously unable to approve any legislation that benefits children and families — the Build Back Better act was shot down in the Senate, as was any forward momentum on extending monthly Child Tax Credit payments — the entire childcare industry is hovering on the edge of collapse.
“Inaction by Congress will put the entire child care sector on a path to insolvency — a reality that would have catastrophic consequences for our entire labor market and economy,” read the letter. “Families, providers and employers alike are counting on Congress to keep their promise and include a strong investment in child care in reconciliation.”